Several congressmen, including one member of the House committee investigating January 6, were reportedly some of the first to rush to former CNN president Jeff Zucker’s defense after he resigned amid scandal on Wednesday.
Jason Kilar, CEO of CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia, met with members of CNN’s Washington bureau on the evening of Zucker’s unexpected retirement. Kilar fielded questions from a number of upset employees, including network host Jake Tapper, on Zucker’s resignation, which was ultimately due to a decision by Kilar that Zucker could no longer remain at the network.
During the meeting, CNN’s Jamie Gangel challenged Kilar that a group of congressmen “felt devastated for our democracy” that Zucker was no longer at the helm of the network news outlet. As Vanity Fair reported:
Toward the end of the meeting, in which prominent CNN journalists went hard at Kilar over Zucker’s resignation, special correspondent Jamie Gangel spoke up. “The first calls I got this morning were from four members of the January 6 committee, who felt devastated for our democracy, because Jeff was not going to be around to make sure that CNN is able to do its job,” she said (later clarifying to colleagues that she meant to say four congresspeople, including one member of the committee).
“From everything we’ve been told, this does not fit the crime. I think the company has made a terrible mistake,” Gangel went on to say, according to Vanity Fair. “I do not think you have any appreciation for what you’ve done to this organization, and to our coverage, and to all the people who worked for him.”
Zucker announced his resignation in an email to CNN staff on Wednesday. A section of the note says:
As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years. I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong.
As a result, I am resigning today.
I came to CNN on January 28, 2013. Together, we had nine great years. I certainly wish my tenure here had ended differently. But it was an amazing run. And I loved every minute.
I am grateful to the thousands of incredibly talented CNN and Turner Sports employees who helped make this such a joy for me, and a success for all of us.
I wish each of you nothing but the best in the years ahead.
With gratitude and much love.
Hours later, Kilar sent a note to staff announcing that three executives at the network would serve as “co-heads” while Zucker’s replacement is found. Kilar wrote:
Team News and Sports –
We are fortunate to have three senior leaders within the News organization who have agreed to serve as interim co-heads for CNN beginning today through what you should anticipate will be through the close of the pending transaction with Discovery. These leaders are Michael Bass, Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz.
I have full confidence that Michael, Amy and Ken, as interim heads for News, will provide the leadership this organization needs during this time of transition.
Lenny Daniels will continue to serve as President and lead Turner Sports & Bleacher Report.
Patrick Crumb will continue as President and head of the regional sports networks.
You will hear more from Michael, Amy, Ken, Lenny, and Patrick in the coming days but I wanted you to be aware of these decisions that have been made.